December Alpha Update: Forge & Fury

The New World Alpha just got their monthly update and the patch notes have been released publicly, so that even if you are not currently testing the game, you can follow along with the development progress. The highlights: the Great Axe has been added as a new (or returning) weapon, along with the Tower Shield and the long-awaited PvP duel feature.

The team at AGS also published a blog post detailing some of these changes and the reasons behind them. Skip to the bottom for the full patch notes!

The land of Aeternum is a wild, mystical place with a never-ending tide of dangerous inhabitants. From vicious wildlife to undead pirates, massive monsters, or even your fellow adventurers, there’s almost always a reason to keep your weapon at the ready.


Since play testers first arrived in New World, we’ve taken in a massive amount of feedback on our combat system. In an Alpha update released today, we made changes to combat that we’d like to talk about, and we’d like to share our larger vision moving forward. You can read the patch notes or keep reading for a high-level view of the player feedback we’ve received and our plans for addressing it.

OUR VISION FOR COMBAT
At the highest level, we have three design pillars for combat in New World:

SKILL-BASED, ACTION-ORIENTED

We want to emphasize positioning, timing, and aiming in a fast and fluid combat setting that allows player skill to shine on the battlefield.
VISCERAL AND HIGH-IMPACT

Attacks from both players and enemies should have a level of commitment and weight to them. Meaty attacks should have appropriate responses from characters which encourages active defense strategies in encounters.
DEPTH OF SYSTEM AND BUILDS

We want to encourage creativity within the system to find the build that is right for you and your particular playstyle. Our goal is to design and tune the system to reward a wide range of builds and strategies.

RECENT CHANGES
Player feedback is an important piece to helping us realize our vision for combat. While feedback varies based on perspective and preference, there are some major trends and themes to what we’ve been hearing from players. Below are some of the biggest points of feedback we have received as well as the steps we have either taken or will be taking to address them. 

  • Stunlock from light attack spam against either players or AI combatants isn’t fun. Back in October, we added a “free dodge roll” after being hit multiple times by enemies to combat attack spam stunlock. With today’s update, we’re further expanding on that by removing the ability for basic attacks, both heavy and light, to interrupt a combatant. In addition, we’re “chaining” attacks by allowing players to string 2-3 light attacks (depending on which weapon you’re using) together before the chain restarts after a short pause, which will add a bit more of a natural rhythm to basic combat.

  • Players want to use their abilities more (aka “Goodbye, Global Cooldown”). The topic of ability use and cooldowns is a source of passionate discussion among players because it defines so much of the feel of moment-to-moment gameplay. In our October Alpha update, we changed cooldowns to be separate for each individual weapon, rather than being shared across weapons. To go along with that, we also slightly sped up weapon switching. While we continue to monitor how this is affecting combat and iterate as needed. The feedback from our current Alpha Testers has been generally positive.

  • Weapon, block, and skill hit detection needed improvements. In an active, action-based combat system, the accuracy of hit detection is a huge deal and is one of the most difficult issues to address on a grand scale. We are constantly looking into improvements for hit detection and synchronization; some of those will be implemented in the near future, and we’ll keep striving to improve in this area.

  • Weapon balancing is crucial.While the Hatchet was far and away the worst offender during the Preview event, weapon balancing is always going to be at the forefront of mind when making changes to combat. As you may have seen in our previous updates, we have been making changes to the balance of weapons and skills, and we will continue to do so in the future. 


  • AI was able to interrupt players too frequently. While we want PvE encounters to feel challenging and have real threat. Too many enemies were too good at interrupting players, which could lead to combat feeling less fluid. In October, we introduced a cooldown reset if a skill gets interrupted and in the future we plan to implement more changes to the AI system as a whole to address the root of this issue.

  • Healing other players is surprisingly hard. In our November Alpha release, we introduced targeted healing to make the Life Staff easier to use when playing in a group. We are further improving the user experience for healing in today’s release, with even more tuning planned in the future.

  • Body blocking makes ranged damage inconsistent in group play. We want positioning and spacing to matter for combat. We currently don’t allow players to shoot through each other. However, we’ve recently introduced a dynamic scaling function for enemies. Elite and other high-profile targets are now easier to hit at range even when engaged in melee combat with other players.

  • Ability input needs to allow players to react to changing combat conditions. In action-based combat, being adaptable in an ever-changing situation is key, and some of the feedback we received suggested that our skill queueing system, as it existed previously, needed adjustment. As you fight, you are inputting actions. Those inputs are sorted into a queue (or buffer) that “remembers” what skill you want to start using next—in this way, you can queue one attack slightly before the previous one ends, which results in a more fluid feeling to combat. Today’s update includes a clean-up of input buffers, which should make ability use more consistent and allow players to better react to new developments on the field of battle. We’ll continue monitoring the situation and see what other changes may be necessary as time goes on.

LOOKING AHEAD
We will continue to refine combat by adding a larger variety of weapons, fine-tuning abilities and skills, making adjustments to existing systems, and adding new systems to push the envelope even further. Be sure to check out the December Alpha release notes for a detailed breakdown of today’s changes. As we continue development, we’ll keep you updated on our social channels and website with future updates.


Patch Notes

Greetings, Adventurers!
The land of Aeternum is a dangerous place and combat is key to survival in this wild and treacherous land. The December Alpha Release, Forge and Fury, focuses on improving the combat experience within New World (you can also read about our vision for combat in our new blog post). We’ve tuned core combat systems, added a new weapon and type of shield, and introduced the oft-requested PvP duel system.

NEW WEAPON: GREAT AXE
The Great Axe is a new two-handed melee weapon that excels at large, sweeping attacks. While training with the Great Axe, adventurers will be able to progress two mastery trees: 
  • The Marauder weapon mastery tree focuses on high damage and multi-hit abilities to hack and slash your way through your foes.
  • The Reaper weapon mastery tree focuses on crowd control and escape prevention. These skills will help you control the flow of the battle while your allies dispatch those who have have caught in your grasp.

The Great Axe will have 2 crafted weapon perks specific to it in addition to the perks that are broadly applicable to other weapons.






LEGENDARY GREAT AXE QUEST
You can also go on an epic quest for the legendary Great Axe, The Reformation
  • Level 60 adventurers can speak to Ranger Herb in Edengrove to begin this quest. 
  • Recover the components needed to create this powerhouse and then deliver them to Ranger Madaki in Mountainhome.


PVP DUELS

We want to give players a fun, consequence-free way to practice PvP combat and interact with each other:
  • Duels can be initiated by any player over level 10, regardless of faction or PvP flag status.
  • Duels cannot be initiated in settlements or during Wars or Invasions.
  • Players can initiate a duel by hovering over another player’s name in chat or a social menu and clicking “Invite To Duel,” or by entering “/duel [playername]” in chat.
  • Outside interference will end a duel.
  • You can duel solo or in groups of up to 5 players per side.

SHIELD UPDATE
TOWER SHIELD

Unleash your inner legionary with the the new Tower Shield. The biggest and most powerful shield in New World to date, the Tower Shield can tank all but the greatest of blows from your enemies.

LEGENDARY TOWER SHIELD QUEST
Players can gather components to craft the legendary Tower Shield Rook’s Defense
  • Level 60 adventurers can speak to Ranger Wardell in Edengrove to begin this quest.

UPDATED SHIELD MECHANICS
We’ve updated the way shields work for both armor and equipment calculations to. 
  • Shields now add to your armor in addition to block chance.
    • Note: Shield armor bonus is only applied when the shield is unsheathed and being wielded.
  • Shields now always contribute to your total equipment weight.







COMBAT SYSTEMS
We made some large changes to address combat feedback from the Preview event. For more details on the feedback and why these changes were made, we suggest checking out our article about our vision for combat in New World.
  • Removed interrupts from light and heavy attacks for all weapons.
  • Light attacks now have chains, or strings of attacks that culminate in an ending attack, after which there will be a slight delay before the chain begins again.
    • For all weapons except for the Hatchet, light attacks chain together twice. Hatchets chain 3 light attacks together before resetting the chain.
  • The recovery time after being hit with a light or heavy attack has been reduced.
  • Adjusted input buffers so delayed actions happen much less often.
    • “Input buffers” are an invisible system that allows players to start inputting their next action before their current action has completed - as an example, if you press Q to use a ability right after using the Right Mouse Button to do a light attack, your Q ability may execute a short while after you pushed the button for it, because your character was still completing their previous action. The input buffer allows small windows of time where a next move can be queued to keep combat moving and feeling fluid. Today’s update made the time window for each input buffer shorter so that you’re less likely to wind up committing to a queued action that is no longer relevant due to changing battle conditions.
  • Reduced the amount of stamina damage that light attacks do versus blocking and Grit attacks.
  • Reduced the recovery time after certain abilities.
  • Players can now consistently cancel out of light and heavy attacks to begin abilities sooner - immediately after the attack’s active frames.
  • Players can now cancel out of light and heavy attacks to dodge sooner - a few frames after the attack’s active frames have completed.
  • Players can now cancel out of certain abilities sooner.
  • Players can now cancel out of dodges sooner.
  • Can now cancel out of attacks to begin blocking sooner.
  • Removed the locked animation frames from blocking to allow for more free-flowing combat.






ABILITY DIFFERENTIATION 
  • We have adjusted a number of abilities in attempt to give each a primary focus. The goal is for each ability to have a clear purpose, such as sheer damage, applying a status effect or crowd control, damaging an enemy’s Grit, etc.

CRITICAL HIT SYSTEM (PART 2)
  • Updated backstabs and critical hit indicators to match the visual look of headshot indicators for more visual consistency.
  • Added sound effects to help signal when critical hits happen.

TARGET HEALING UPDATES
  • Added a visual effect to highlight that players can self-cast using CTRL + the ability hotkey.
  • Added new visual effects to highlight which player is currently being targeted.
  • Added options to the Gameplay Settings menu to allow players to customize their healing experience. Specifically, these settings allow players to refine their settings for how healing spells are targeted and how the camera behaves while targeting another player for healing.

BALANCEBOW 
  • Spreadshot damage reduced 15% and cooldown increased to 22 seconds.
  • Rapid Shot cooldown increased to 20 seconds.
  • Evasion Shot cooldown decreased to 15 seconds.
  • Penetrating Shot cooldown decreased to 18 seconds.

SHIELD
  • Added 2 new Shield-specific perks. These are applicable to all types of shield.


Most of the UI team’s recent work has been on projects intended for future releases, but there are two areas seeing substantial updates in this release:
TOOLTIPS
  • We overhauled the presentation of tooltips. Our goal was to make them more compact, while making the categorization of information more clear and legible at a glance. We also show a few more combat stats, and we have taken a tuning pass at making tooltips more responsive.

UI POLISH PASS CONTINUES
  • We are continuing to add updates to the UI in key places like the NPC Dialog screen and Settings, but there are also small changes to various UI components across the game. We are striving to make interactive components more eye-catching and legible at-a-glance.

PROGRESSION & REWARDSPROGRESSION
  • Adjusted the leveling curve from levels 1 through 10 to better match the pace of quests.
  • Rested experience so that it now starts accumulating after 12 hours (increased from 8 hours) and accrues at 2% per hour (decreased from 2.5%).
  • Reduced XP from PvP Missions by 10%.

ECONOMY
In this patch, we made a set of item changes to pave the way for future crafting system changes. We’ve added in new gathering milestones, resources, and crafting reagents. In a future update we’ll talk more about how these item changes fit into the overall crafting vision.‘

-- Takyn